By Bhavya Srivastava
Edited by Namitha Sadanand, Associate Editor, The Indian Economist
The golden era has painfully come to an end. Hindustan Motors stopped the production of its iconic Amby, as it’s lovingly called, on 25th May 2014. The 56 years of glorious journey which began in 1958 have come to a halt. Gone are the ways when one could see the elite of Indian officialdom move elegantly past us. All we are left with is just a legacy that narrates the untold values and hopes of Nehruvian India.
The car, based on Morris Oxford III model, started its production from Uttarpara district in West Bengal in the 1954. It boasted of deep headlamp cowls and rear tail fins that were the rage in that era. The car basically came as a replacement for the Moris Oxford II models that were manufactured in the factory at that time. The fact that Birla Sr. refused to drive a car made in his factory, questions the durability of the product. However, the very first car was gifted to India’s first Prime Minister, Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru in 1963. Since then it has been regularly used in the fleet of official cars by all dignitaries. Truly, it is an aspirational and inspirational car for all the senior bureaucrats.
The car moved past the gentler, less aggressive India with lumbering grace. Every step voiced an untold piece of Indian history – not just the better parts but also the juicy specifics, the harrowing tales – it carried the past, present and the future with utmost care under its hood.
The Ambassador, since its debut, has undergone myriad changes and revamps. In 1979, it got a face lift but the changes were mostly cosmetic. Alongwith the petrol variant, a diesel alternate, too was launched powered by 1489 cc, 37 bhp diesel engine. The majestic graceful lady celebrated its Golden Jubilee in 1958. In the summers of 2004, came the most radical version of the old lady – the Avigo. The Avigo showed off the classic internals, like the wood-grain interiors.
The change of power at the Central government did not leave the automobile unaffected. The era of Maruti Suzuki had come. The car that had dominated the Indian hearts and market started to lose its edge. The Ambassador’s market share and sales had begun to dwindle. It was needed on the part of Hindustan Motors to recognize its brand value and contemporize it. Moreover, the car was a fuel devourer and cost of maintaining it was soaring high.
The Ambassador has always been more than a car – it’s the King of Indian Roads.It’s been a silent witness to numerous incidents that rocked the country be it the 1971 war, the Emergency, the nationalisation of banks, the agricultural revolution or the recent victory of Narendra Modi. The graceful product always had a stoic expression, favouring its built, with its head held high. Though production has stopped, it continues to linger on in our mind and soul, with its figure etched into our consciousness. It deserves all the proper salutation and the fan-fare that can come its way. It was truly the ‘Ambassador of Comfort and Dignity’.
Ms. Bhavya Srivastava, a resident of Lucknow and an alumni of Seth M.R. Jaipuria School, is pursuing her B.Tech in Computer Science and Engineering from Amity University, Lucknow. She is an avid reader with almost 500 books in her kitty. She has co-ordinated and organised different events in her college along with representing her university at various levels. She is interactive, adaptive, fun-loving and outgoing girl with good technical skills and proficiency in English and Hindi.